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Hartis, county settle lawsuit

Posted: April 3, 2014 5:33 p.m.
Updated: April 4, 2014 5:00 a.m.
C-I file photo/

Gene Hartis

Former Kershaw County Magistrate Gene Hartis, a candidate for Kershaw County Council Chair, has settled a lawsuit against the county for considerably less than asked for. Hartis originally asked for $4 million plus legal fees in his original suit aimed at Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews. A court document obtained by the Chronicle-Independent through the S.C. Freedom of Information Act says Hartis accepted a settlement of just $20,000 on Jan. 16.

When asked for comment, Hartis would only say that the matter concluded two months ago.

Hartis claimed Matthews had “defamed” him with comments the sheriff made after taking office in January 2011. Former Sheriff Steve McKaskill and three others filed similar suits against Matthews, although asking for smaller damage amounts of $2 million each. Those three suits were settled in mediation for a total of $110,000, paid by the county’s insurance carrier.

Hartis’ suit alleged Matthews said the Kershaw County Magistrate’s Office had misused victim’s advocate funds. Although Matthews did not name specific individuals in his comments, Hartis claimed he was identified in the news media as the county’s chief magistrate. He also said a state audit of his office found no wrongdoing.


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